There are few things in the world that I like more than cherries. I can sit and eat them by the hundreds!
This surely relates back to fond childhood memories. We had five sour cherry trees at the home where I grew up. They annually came into season almost exactly at the time school ended in June. So for a boy, it just didn’t get any better than summer break, summer weather, and summer cherries (and climbing trees to pick them) – all at the same time.
However, there was one other cherry tree in the yard. It was closer to the house and much taller than the other five trees. I don’t actually know what variety of cherry tree it was, and that is because I don’t actually remember ever eating anything from it! The cherries seemed to always be either too green, rotten, or worm infested before you could ever harvest anything from what appeared to be a beautiful tree. My father eventually wearied of it and cut the dumb thing down to the ground.
In our brief three-verse passage today from Luke 6:43-45, Jesus teaches…“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
The basic teaching here is not complicated to understand: the nature of the product tends to reveal the nature of the source. In the context of speech, words have a strong connection toward revealing the nature of the heart within a person.
Here is a time where the old KJV Bible gets it better than some modern translations. Where it speaks here in this NIV translation about the good or evil that is “stored up,” the original Greek word literally means a “treasure.” The definition of the word says that this is “the place in which good and precious things are collected and laid up – like a casket, coffer, or other receptacle, in which valuables are kept.” Wow, what a picture!
People make judgments about what someone says (or tweets!), and there is strong basis for tying words to speculating about the inner condition of a person. On the day that I write this, I was sad to see where a couple of folks who were formerly associated with TSF dropped the F-bomb in social media communication. I’m not sure how to see that other than to think the person is either very mentally dense about how that looks or that the condition of their heart and faith is darker than I ever imagined. You get the point.
But it is not just extreme or marginal conversation that we’re thinking about here. What is it that you find yourself talking about the most with other people? What topics do you find yourself bringing up and desirous of communicating? Man, that really does reveal the nature of the values systems of our hearts, doesn’t it?
Perhaps a valuable and functional question to ask ourselves is if what we want to talk about with others is endowed much by interest in that which has eternal value or merit. Or is it honestly just about stuff that is mundane and merely the fancies of a passing world? Or God forbid it is the nasty fruit of residual evil.
Words matter. They paint pictures.
And then there is grumbling. Paul reminds us…
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing,
15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky
16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. (Phil. 2:14-16 NIV)